A Michigan state representative said Monday he's working on a measure that would disallow health benefits for gay partners of state employees in new contracts that have been agreed to by the state and five labor unions.
Rep. Ken Bradstreet also said he is writing a letter to Atty. Gen. Mike Cox to ask whether it's legal for the state to offer domestic-partner benefits to the gay and lesbian partners of state workers in light of Michigan voters' approval of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
Bradstreet's resolution, expected to be introduced on Tuesday, would urge Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Office of the State Employer to refrain from negotiating or approving any state contract with domestic-partner health care benefits for same-sex couples. "It's unfathomable how, before the ballot boxes are hardly put away, some state leaders are going against citizens' wishes to even consider this issue in the labor contract negotiations process," Bradstreet said in a news release.
The state reached an agreement earlier this month with the labor unions on a new contract that takes effect October 1, 2005, and includes a 10% raise over three years. The contract already has been overwhelmingly ratified by the United Auto Workers Local 6000, which represents nearly one third of state workers.
Alan Kilar, legislative liaison for the UAW, said the union reached an agreement with the state in good faith and expects the state to stick with it. "They agreed to this," he said. "It's a contract, and an agreement is an agreement."
A spokesman for house speaker Rick Johnson said Johnson isn't working behind the scenes on the legislation, but added that a number of house Republicans are upset that the Granholm administration negotiated domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples. "Does this have legs? Potentially," Johnson spokesman Keith Ledbetter said.
It's unclear what effect, if any, a resolution would have on state employee contracts that already have been agreed to by several labor unions but haven't been ratified by all. A decision by the attorney general on the legality of domestic-partner benefits for state workers would have a greater impact.